East: Les Miles says he’s ready to keep it going

Chances are LSU football coach Les Miles didn’t change a lot of people’s opinions of himself or his program with his state-of-the-program interview with The Advocate on Thursday.

People who already felt the program was in good hands probably still feel that way.

People who had doubts about Miles and his program probably still have them.

But people in both camps should have come away reassured that the unprecedented number of underclassmen leaving early for the NFL draft isn’t going to cripple one of the elite programs in the country.

Similarly, people should have understood that Miles wasn’t going to overreact to a 10-3 season in which one more first down or defensive stop against Alabama would have had the Tigers playing for the Southeastern Conference Championship and a berth in the BCS title game.

LSU is who it has been and figures to remain that way.

A lot of talent is leaving before exhausting its eligibility, but talented replacements are on their way.

Yes, the offense needs to get better — and Miles knows it — but the answer is not going to be to scrap a philosophy that Miles has followed in winning 80 percent of his games in eight seasons.

Miles, who wouldn’t answer Thursday when asked whether there could be changes to the offensive staff, was a bit more forthcoming Friday.

“(The offense) is not something that I’m thinking about right now,” he said. “We are certainly going to make improvement there. But right now, all I’m focused on is recruiting and finishing out this signing class on a high note.”

This signing class is the primary reason Miles was unfazed by the early departures. In addition to expecting and preparing for most of the departures, Miles believes he’s on the verge of completing another class that will yield a bunch of NFL-ready underclassmen.

It’s why, even though he’s not satisfied with a 10-3 season, he is comfortable with the state of the program.

As he pointed out, a seven-point loss at Auburn in 2010 and the four-point loss to Alabama in 2012 are all that prevented LSU from sandwiching two more trips to the SEC title game with a BCS title game berth at stake around last year’s league title and BCS title game berth.

Getting close to but falling short of your ultimate goal isn’t what anyone aspires to, but it’s a sign you’re on the right track and doing better than most.

The fact right now is that every program in America is measured against Alabama, which is in the midst of one of the most remarkable runs in college football history, having won three BCS titles in four years.

No one knows that better than the Tigers, who face the Crimson Tide every season and have split the last four meetings with them.

LSU, unlike virtually everyone else who is trying to catch up to Alabama, is nipping at the Tide’s heels.

In a nutshell, that’s the state of the program.

That’s encouraging to some, discouraging to others.

And nothing Miles can say is going to change either.